use words.

People love quotes. I love quotes. To me, a good quote is like a slab of meat that you can just keep on chomping and it just keeps on tasting good.

“A good quote is like a slab of meat that you can just keep on chomping and it just keeps on tasting good.” -Anonymous

See what I did there? People love words between quotation marks. Give it some italics and a huge quotation mark and whatever you said now has validity. Sadly, there are many quotes, expressions, and proverbs that people attribute to Scripture or to Christianity that are complete garbage (see featured image). They come out of mouths quicker than Scripture and are spoken with the authority of Scripture. My favorite is…

“God helps those who help themselves.” -Not Jesus

I mean… come on! There are thirty-one chapters in Proverbs… It’s gotta be in there somewhere. And actually, through the power of Google, I found a verse that is very similar:

“Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” -Qur’an 13:11

Oh… whoops. Wrong book.

The next quote (which I intended to be the only one I brought up) has an interesting history in my life:

“Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary.” -St. Francis of Assisi

I remember the first time I heard it. I gave it a hearty, Christian “Mmm.” There’s some meat right there. How powerful. Seriously. Think about it. Live your life in such a way that you communicate that Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected without speaking a single word. Um… Not even Jesus did that.
I loved this quote. How great is it that you can communicate Christ to people without even speaking a word? That right there cuts your chances of awkwardness and persecution down to a very manageable level. Thankfully, a friend opened my eyes to how untrue this really is.

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? … Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” Romans 10:14,17

If you want people to see Jesus through your good deeds, serving, and unnatural living and loving, then point them to Jesus (Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 2:12). The easiest way to do that is to speak Jesus’ name. I can ask to pray for or with someone, but if I don’t tell them who I’m praying to, I could be praying to anything or anybody. I can unnaturally love a unlovable person, but people would probably attribute it to a good heart or a good momma before they tie it to Jesus. You may even presume that people in the South assume you’re a Christian, but that isn’t the case these days. Even if it was the case, that’s a lot of doctrine you’re trying to nonverbally communicate.

SPEAK Jesus’ name! “Gospel” means “good news.” People share news, especially when it’s good. Don’t get caught in the trap of assuming your actions are enough to lead someone to Christ. If you can think back and directly attribute your actions to someone’s salvation, then please share your story with me. Our actions may lead others to see something different in us, but people won’t walk away saved. Don’t be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord (2 Timothy 1:8). Christ must be spoken.

Fun fact: Up until I sat down to write this post, I attributed this quote to St. Francis of Assisi. I know nothing of St. Francis of Assisi, anyway… well, besides that quote. There actually isn’t any record of St. Francis of Assisi ever saying those words and he was actually theologically sound. Who knew?


Jesus was a f***ing cool dude.

Mark 2 starts out with a pretty familiar story. I remember hearing it a lot when I was little.
So… everybody heard Jesus had come home, so they filled the place. There wasn’t any room left, not even outside the door. Some men show up bring a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. Since they couldn’t get inside, they made a hole in the roof above Jesus and lowered the mat the man was lying on. Jesus healed the paralytic and he dances away. That’s about all I remember. Sadly, I am just now beginning to understand the story… just now, as in, after I started typing the first sentence of this post…

These men make every effort to get their friend to Jesus… and they do. “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’” This is the first thing Jesus said to the paralytic (Is that even why the man or his friends were there?). So, the teachers of the law freak out thinking, “He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” Jesus said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” I have to be honest and say that is not an easy question. I mean, being in that situation, neither of those options would seem “easier” than the other. But Jesus makes it very clear He has authority over it all when the paralytic is seen walking out the door… But I believe the answer to His question is in the end of verse 12: “This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” These people just witnessed a healing like they had never seen. This man was just forgiven of his sins… and healed of his paralysis. I don’t know that they fully comprehended what just happened, but let me continue (so I can hopefully reach my point).

Moving along in Mark 2… Jesus calls Levi, “Follow me.” Levi gets up and follows Jesus. Where does he follow Him? Well they end up eating dinner at Levi’s house… “with many tax collectors and sinners” (You must really be bad if Scripture lumps you together and just calls you “sinners”). So here come the Pharisees again and they see Jesus eating with the “sinners and tax collectors.” So they ask Jesus’ disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” I think they are genuinely curious as to why He does this. “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’

Jesus just busted up into the Pharisaic party with the not-so-cool guy. And Jesus has busted up into my party.
In church, we always talk about reaching the lost. Bring your friend to church. Tell someone about Jesus. So I walked around with Jesus. We’d go serve people, do some manual labor… we went to church regularly… led Bible studies… Jesus shirts and Jesus bracelets… but I didn’t know Jesus.

Thankfully, only by God’s grace, God continued to pursue me in my perseverance to figure out Jesus. It’s funny, because when Jesus shows up, strange things happen. Jesus took me to the hood. He took me to Turkey. He took me to Haiti. While I like to think I did these things in obedience to Him, I’m starting to see how He staged these steps to get me to the understanding He’s giving me now. He’s slowly showing me who the BIBLE says He is… not the church… not culture… not myself.

The Gospel. Thank You, Jesus, for everyone in the last few weeks that has shown me Christians don’t… can’t… won’t get over the Gospel… They stand in it every. single. day.

Now I’m getting to my point (let me attempt to tie all of this together).
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2, “Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” Paul is reminding his brothers and sisters that have already received and taken a stand on the gospel…. the gospel. We will not understand the gospel until we understand the greatness, holiness, and righteousness of God and our wretchedness, foolishness, and sinfulness (I reallly want to chase some rabbits!) The gospel is life. It is our hope and what we stand on. Yet, we so often move past the gospel. “Congratulations on accepting the gospel. You may now advance to Step 2.” Then it’s church attendance, memory verses, mission trips, abstinence, new friends, clean language, dedication, devotion, K-Love, Bible studies, lead a Bible study, help some needy folks….. ALL good things… but they are NOT Jesus. When we certify ourselves based on our church attendance or the fact that we picked up somebody else’s trash over the blood of Jesus covering an undeserving sinner deserving of Hell… we have a [sarcasm]small[/sarcasm] issue. Jesus came for the sick. He didn’t come to call the righteous. If you think you’re righteous, well, then I guess you’re already taken care of.

I have been given the privilege to serve in a Bible study at a local drug rehab. God also dropped in front of me a Jesus follower from the hood that doesn’t see a problem with marijuana or doing illegal things. If you think you can take your “Christianity” to a drug rehab and offer people hope and life… you’re mistaken. Looking people in the eye and telling them, “You have to become like me before you become a Christian” does not work (well, I can’t say I’ve tried it, but my brain can recognize the fallacy). When you’re talking to a guy that likes his marijuana, telling him to dress up, come to church (in his car with K-Love and a fish sticker), memorize John 3:16, and join a small group won’t do much good. Looking him in the eye and offering him the pure, gospel truth that Jesus came for the sick and not for the righteous… that Jesus came for him as sick and filthy as he is, just the way he is, because He is the doctor and He loves the sick. He doesn’t need any of the other crap we tie into the gospel… He just needs Jesus.
I have NEVER heard anything sweeter than a twenty-three year old dude locked in drug rehab say, “I read about Jesus and He was a pretty f***ing cool dude.”
How dare we decide who gets to hear the gospel. How dare we tell people to clean themselves up before they come to Jesus. How dare we tell people to wipe their shoes at the door of Jesus’ church. Jesus wasn’t up in His fancy church building discussing with the Pharisees next month’s budget. He was the one with the guy in the gutter that you told to get a job. He was with the folks that you tell your kids to avoid. Oh, Jesus, please let us all see how undeserving we are of Your grace and mercy… And in light of that let us see how deserving those around us are to hear, and see, and feel Your grace and mercy through us.

With the Wind at our backs,
And in the strength of the Lord,
We will rise on the wings of the dawn,
We’re gonna take back all the enemy has stolen.

It’s in the Blood of the One Who’s Worthy,
I know God has not forgotten all that’s lost and broken,
So come and see the turning of the tides,
Come and see His sons and daughters rise,
For how could He who did not spare His own Son,
Not freely give us victory against the darkest of nights?

We’re gonna take back all the enemy has stolen,
We’re going to plunder the pits of hell,
It’s in the Blood of the One who’s Worthy!
Take Back – Will Reagan & United Pursuit

[Insert asterisk here. Church, memorizing verses, and K-Love aren't bad and would do a lot of people a lot of good... but hopefully you see the point :) ]

Waterfall

Today, Chapple, Katie, Myra, and I took a drive down to Dry Falls in Highlands, NC. It was the perfect end to a relaxing day in the mountains. As we began walking down the pathway toward the waterfall, we heard the faint sound of rushing water. Full of excitement, Myra and Katie raced to the guardrail to capture the moment on camera, but Chapple encouraged us, “Keep walking, guys. The best spot is at the bottom!” Every few feet, we had the urge to stop and take in the beauty of God’s creation but Chapple drew us on further stating, “I promise it gets better y’all. Just keep on coming. You have to make it to the bottom.” When we finally reached the end, I understood why Chapple wanted us to wait. The powerful rush of water cascading down the rocks was most magnificent and appreciated at the bottom. Only here could the falls be viewed in its entirety. And only here could the magnitude of the falls be experienced. The LORD has created hope and a future for us (Jeremiah 29:11), but in life we so often rush to the guardrail in desperation or excitement that we miss God’s BEST for us. Where we have been may be good, and where we are now may be better, but where God wants to take us is the BEST. He desires the absolute best for us: an abundant life. We just have to be patient and abide in Him to experience everything He intended for us. Once we get to the end, we will understand why God chose to close those doors and why He allowed us to go through trials or failures. Surrender your life completely to the LORD and allow the river to sweep you away…you never know when He will bring you to the next waterfall.


love will come to save us


Love is not a place
To come and go as we please
It’s a house we enter in
Then commit to never leave

So lock the door behind you
Throw away the key
We’ll work it out together
Let it bring us to our knees

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave
May God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for

To some, love is a word
That they can fall into
But when they’re falling out
Keeping that word is hard to do

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave
May God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for

Love will come to save us
If we’ll only call
He will ask nothing from us
But demand we give our all

Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave
May God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight
But it’s something worth fighting for


ha ha ha.

There are so many stories of the Disciples “missing the point” that I can’t even write them all out (Just a few examples I’ll reference below: John 6:54-61, John 18:8-11, Mark 8:31-33, Mark 9:33-35, Mark 14:34-42, Luke 24:37-49).

Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life.” If someone told you this, what would you think? You’d probably think as the disciples did: “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” The next verse says Jesus was aware that his disciples were grumbling about this. ….Just wait. One day that will actually make sense to you.

Jesus was teaching about how he must be rejected, killed, and after three days rise again. Scripture says, “He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ‘Get behind me, Satan!’ he said. ‘You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.’” ….Peter. Do you even know who I am?

After Jesus and his disciples had travelled to Capernaum, Jesus asked them what they had been arguing about on the road. They kept quiet because they had been arguing over who was the greatest. Jesus sat down and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” ….You think I couldn’t hear you? Clearly you have all missed the point.

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told his disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch.” Three times Jesus goes away to pray and comes back to find them all asleep. ….Thanks fellas.

Jesus was about to be arrested in the garden and Simon Peter whipped out his sword and cut the high priest’s servant’s ear off. Jesus then said, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” ….Simon Peter! Seriously? You just cut that dude’s ear off!

In Luke 24:45, Jesus appeared to the disciples after his death and “he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.” WOW. Talk about “mind-blowing.” All of these prophecies, this “eating of flesh”, resurrection… it all made sense.

So. Do you laugh at the disciples’ ignorance? Do you sympathize with it? Do you find yourself in their shoes? These verses and the disciples’ stories bring me to this conclusion that I cannot let go: When I get to Heaven, Jesus is going to laugh at me. Of course, His intentions will be pure and holy. But I think He’s going to run towards me like the father of the prodigal son, sweep me up in His arms, and laugh. And like Luke 24:45, my mind will be opened to understand the Scriptures… and I’m going to laugh at myself, too. I missed it. I missed the point. I missed it all.

All of the valleys I have faced, all of the suffering, all of the trials and tribulations… they weren’t to harm me, they weren’t to hurt me… they were for my good. Wow. So that time I was struggling through… Oh. That was the reason.
And all that time I spent doing things hoping to earn a little more favor?… Wow. You really couldn’t have loved me more.
And that time when I faced temptation?… When I looked it dead in the eye… and I consciously weighed the sin… and You… and I chose the sin? You still loved me.
And that dark time when I didn’t know which way was up? You never hid Your face from me.

That’s why I think Jesus will laugh at me. I missed it! So what can I do with this thought that is plaguing me and won’t leave me? I can take the disciple’s story and this thought and use it for my good and His glory. The first conclusion I come to is that the “ups” and “downs” are not. God’s love for me and His face are ever upon me. The reason I’m struggling and I’m in a “valley” is because He’s teaching me, growing me, preparing me for what He has coming for me. This time is the best time to trust, have faith, hold on to Him. He’s not punishing me, torturing me, or messing with me. He’s molding me. It’s hope. Secondly, I can have faith in the Rock of Ages. Whenever I face a situation, thought, or I’m faced with anything that is new, I can rely on the truths that I know and have faith through the things I don’t understand. I need to take my situations and thoughts and hold them in the light of Jesus. I know His character and I know who He is. So, like the disciples being told to eat of his flesh and drink of his blood, I can stand through these thoughts with the truths I already have.

Anyways. I can’t wait to get to Heaven and see the King of Glory in an all-out sprint, like the father of the prodigal son… And just laugh.


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